Flying program provides lots of lifts
If you’ve flown in a small airplane, you know it can be exhilarating. The freedom to fly, to let your problems float away for a while, is healing. But how often does the average kid get the opportunity to fly?
With SOARING, or Special Opportunities Affirm Recognition in Noteworthy Goals, kids and adults get that chance to fly.
SOARING is the creation of marriage and family counselor Joe McCarron, of Coeur d’Alene. A pilot, he uses analogies from flying to help clients get through life’s struggles.
“In life you can be flying straight and level – sometimes you stall,” McCarron said. “We use aviation as a metaphor for life. It’s play therapy. We use airplanes to help (kids) understand life.”
McCarron started the program 15 years ago and now has hundreds of volunteer pilots who help.
“Back in the old days, it was just me and my plane,” McCarron said.
It all started with a young man on probation who came in for therapy at McCarron’s office. The young man was in the diversion program, which means he had to keep his nose clean. But he punched a principal and refused to do community service. One day the youth saw a photo of an airplane in McCarron’s office and asked what it took to be a pilot. It was the first time he had shown interest in anything McCarron said.
McCarron got him a job washing airplanes at the Coeur d’Alene Airport; he did a good job and the other pilots liked him.
“I took him up for a ride,” McCarron said.
The kid was hooked.
Now SOARING is divided into four groups. The SOARING Eagles are battling emotional and behavioral issues; the SOARING Phoenixes are families or individuals dealing with medical adversity; the SOARING Falcons face the challenges of military life; and the SOARING Angels, for people with spiritual and community challenges.
Cari Jordan, of Post Falls, is a breast cancer survivor who enrolled her boys in SOARING when she was diagnosed in 2007. The single mother said her older son, Tyler, then 13, was particularly upset because he understood how serious her condition was. The family was in the Phoenix program.
“It was hard for Tyler to figure out the emotions,” Jordan said. “SOARING helped him get the tools to handle his emotions.”
She said McCarron helped her with her own life changes due to the cancer.
“You have to make decisions on the ground before you can fly,” she said.
Cheney park plan goes to voters
Voters in Cheney will decide this fall whether to approve a $5 million bond to build phase one of a new 50-acre park, which includes a community center.
The Cheney City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to put the bond on the November ballot.
The project, expected to cost $6 million, will be funded with $1 million from the city’s insurance payment from last winter’s roof collapse of the Wren Pierson Building and with funds from real estate excise taxes. If approved, residents will pay $10 a month per $150,000 of assessed property value.
Paul Simmons, director of Cheney Parks and Recreation, said the loss of Wren Pierson left several programs and groups displaced or disbanded. The museum, the senior club, Cheney Outreach, the food and clothing banks and other groups have scrambled to find temporary homes.
“There’s a lot of folks that are struggling to keep their doors open,” Simmons said.
The department has received feedback about the proposed project, which includes the community center, dog park, softball and youth baseball fields, walking trails, a playground and two soccer fields, all on the city’s north end at Betz and Washington.
Bond supporters believe the city has immediate need for the facility. They said that when the Wren Pierson Building was fully functional, it had limited space for the many programs it housed. Housing has increased in the park’s neighborhood and there is need for a new senior center and a teen center close to the middle school.
Opponents said they have concerns about visitors to the park crossing Betz Road. Simmons said there are several options to solve this problem: a pedestrian bridge, an undercrossing, a pedestrian signal or surface crossing. Simmons said that if Spokane had such concerns about pedestrians crossing Grand Boulevard, there would be no Manito Park today.
“This is something we are seriously addressing,” he said.